Rice: Unconventional Wisdom
The President's Lecture Series

William H. Calvin

Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007

How to Treat Global Fever: An Intelligence Test for Our Times

William H. Calvin

A theoretical neurobiologist and affiliate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, William H. Calvin studies ape-to-human evolution, climate change and civilization’s vulnerabilities to abrupt shocks. His research interests include the hominid brain’s four-fold enlargement during the Ice Ages and the brain’s cognitive reorganization during the mind’s “Big Bang,” which occurred about 50,000 years ago.

How to Treat Global FeverDuring his talk, Calvin will examine the causes of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and appraise the conventional methods humans are considering to help reverse the trend, such as conservation, reduced emissions and clean energy sources. He then will examine alternate means he believes are necessary to restore the balance between carbon emissions and consumption, including the development of water-based carbon “sinks” to replace lost carbon-consuming forests.

Calvin is the author of a dozen books, most for general readers, about brains and evolution, including “A Brief History of the Mind: From Apes to Intellect and Beyond” and “A Brain for All Seasons: Human Evolution and Abrupt Climate Change,” which won the 2002 Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science. His book with Derek Bickerton, “Lingua ex Machina: Reconciling Darwin and Chomsky with the Human Brain,” traces the evolution of structured language. His next book, “Global Fever: How to Treat Climate Change,” will be out this coming February.